Friday, November 29, 2013

VIDEO: Thelonious Monk Bombs in Paris in 1954, Then Makes a Triumphant Return in 1969

by , Open Culture:

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Thelonious Monk’s popular image as the hippest of the hip in mid-century bebop is well-deserved, but his career trajectory was not without its lame notes, including the loss of his cabaret license for several years after a 1951 drug bust in New York with Bud Powell.

The incident forced him to leave the haven of the Minton’s Playhouse after-hours jam session scene and strike out for new venues and new outlets, such as recording the seminal two-volume Genius of Modern Music in 1952, which featured some of the earliest, most boisterous versions of Monk compositions like soon-to-be standard “Well, You Needn’t.”

In 1954, Monk arrived in Paris where he performed at the Salle Pleyel to an audience that mostly didn’t know him. Patrick Jarenwattananon at NPR describes the night:

[H]e had almost no public profile in France apart from the most hardcore of modern jazz fans; he was nervous and probably drunk; and he followed an enormously popular Dixieland band on stage. Critics in attendance panned him, confused by his unique dissonances and agitated stage behavior. The gig was, as biographer Robin Kelley described it, a disaster.

To make matters worse, Jarenwattananon writes, Monk - used to rhythm players like Art Blakey and Al McKibbon - was apparently “assigned a local rhythm section which was probably unfamiliar with his music.”

You can hear Monk above from a recording he made during that trip, without said rhythm section, playing “Round About Midnight” in his expressively percussive piano style.

Monk’s style, famously described by Philip Larkin as a “faux-naif elephant dance,” was rapidly developing as he came into his own as a bandleader and composer.

But although perhaps a personal milestone (Monk met lifelong friend, patron, and devotee Pannonica de Koenigswarter that night), the Paris gig of 1954 was a bust that haunted the innovative pianist.

And so it was that fifteen years later, Monk returned to the Salle Pleyel with his own quartet. This time, Jarenwattananon tells us, he arrived as an “international star.”

The concert was televised, and, on November 26th, it will be released as an audio recording and DVD simply called Paris 1969 (see Monk’s quartet play “I Mean You” in an excerpt above).

For a short time, you can preview and pre-order individual tracks from the recording or listen to the whole concert straight through at NPR’s site.

It’s a mellower Monk than his mid-fifties incarnation, without a doubt, not the “tap-dancing, elbows-on-the-piano Monk of yore,” writes Jarenwattananon: “But it’s Monk doing Monk, swinging intensely through severe rhythmic crevasses” and generally exuding the confidence and panache of his hero Duke Ellington.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Songs You May Have Thought the Beatles Wrote, But Didn't

Beatles Concert Ticket
Beatles Concert Ticket (Photo credit: b.reynolds)
by James R. Coffey,

While nothing does an old child-of-the-60s heart more good than to see yet another generation of youth embracing the Beatles and their music, in recent months, numerous articles have appeared on sites like Factoizd, referencing supposed “Beatle” songs, that actually weren’t written by the Fab Four at all.

Here is a little clarification as to what the Beatles’ actual contribution to music was - and wasn’t. 

I think I speak for many of my generation when I say that nothing does an old child-of-the-60s heart and soul more good than to see yet another generation of youth around the world embracing The Beatles and their music.

For those of us who lived through that era - from their momentous appearances on the Ed Sullivan show to the announcement of their break-up - we know well the monumental impact they had not only on the world of music, but culture, religion, politics, as well as many of the seeds of change that have come to fruition over the last forty years.

While I certainly don’t wish to in any way dampen that ongoing and resurgent enthusiasm for the band that by most definitions was the greatest and most influential musical force of the 20th century, I have read numerous articles in recent months on sites like Factoizd and Associated Content, mistakenly referencing “Beatle” songs that while performed by the Beatles, and in many cases are most memorable by the Beatles, actually weren’t written by the Fab Four.

And I feel that I would be remiss as both a musician and representative of the 60s if I didn’t provide a little factual clarification as to what the Beatles’ actual contribution to music was - and just as importantly, wasn’t.

This would seem best achieved by singling out those songs many believe the Beatles wrote, but in fact, didn’t. In that the Beatles respected these songs and their creators enough to do cover versions, it seems unlikely that they would want credit for their creation.

For convenience and continuity, I have listed them chronologically in order of the American albums on which they appeared. This does not cover the dozens of cover versions they performed in concert or ended up on bootlegs, or those albums released in Britain.

*Meet the Beatles:


"Till There Was You" is a song written by Meredith Willson for his 1957 musical play The Music Man, and which also appeared in the 1962 movie version.

*The Beatles Second Album:


"Roll Over Beethoven" is a 1956 hit single by Chuck Berry originally released on Chess Records. The lyric of the song mention rock & roll and the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music. The song has been covered by many other artists, with Rolling Stone magazine ranking it #97 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

"You've Really Got a Hold on Me" is a 1962 single by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles for the Tamla (Motown) label.

"Money (That's What I Want)" is a 1959 hit single written by Barrett Strong for the Tamla label, written by Tamla founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford, and became the first hit record for Gordy's Motown enterprise.

"Devil in His Heart" is a song written by Richard Drapkin, who recorded under the name Ricky Dee. The song was originally recorded as "Devil in His Heart" by The Donays for Correc-tone Records. The song was later picked up by the New York City label Brent and was re-released in August 1962 as "(There's a) Devil in His Heart" with the B-side "Bad Boy,” another Beatle cover.

"Long Tall Sally" is a rock and roll 12-bar blues song written by Robert "Bumps" Blackwell, Enotris Johnson, and “Little” Richard Penniman, recorded by Little Richard in March 1956.

"Please Mr. Postman" is the debut single by The Marvelettes, written by William Garrett, for the Tamla (Motown) label, notable as the first Motown song to reach the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.

*Something New:


"Slow Down" is a 12-bar blues written by Larry Williams.  Released as a single in 1958, it was a rhythm and blues hit that influenced the growing Rock & Roll movement (including John Lennon and Paul McCartney) of the time. It was released by The Beatles in 1965 as a single along with "Dizzy Miss Lizzy," in 1964..

"Matchbox" is a Rock-a-Billy song written by Carl Perkins and first recorded by him at Sun Records in December 1956 and released on February 11, 1957 as a single on Sun Records. It has become one of Perkins' best-known recordings although many Beatle fans aren’t aware Perkins actually wrote it.

*Beatles ‘65:


"Rock and Roll Music" is a song written and originally recorded by Chuck Berry which became a hit single in 1957, reaching #8 in the U.S. charts, and was later covered by both The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

"Mr. Moonlight" is a song written by Roy Lee Johnson, but best known as a cover version by The Beatles which first appeared on the 1964 albums Beatles for Sale (United Kingdom) and Beatles '65 in the United States. The first known recording of the song was by blues pianist Piano Red, recording as "Dr. Feelgood and the Interns.”

"Honey Don't" is a song written by Carl Perkins, originally released on January 1, 1956 as the B-side of the famous "Blue Suede Shoes." It has been covered by more than 20 other artists, including The Beatles, Ronnie Hawkins, and Johnnie Rivers.

"Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" is a song composed by Carl Perkins adapted from a similar song by songwriter Rex Griffin in 1936. Perkins recorded the song in 1957, changing the music and adding his own lyrics.

*Beatles VI:


"Kansas City" is a 12-bar rhythm and blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952.  The song was first recorded by Little Willie Littlefield that same year, under the title, "KC Lovin'.”

"Bad Boy" is a song written by Larry Williams, one of several The Beatles covered during their career. Along with "Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” "Bad Boy" was recorded by The Beatles on May 10, 1965, (Larry Williams' birthday), and was originally intended for a solely American release.

"Words of Love" is a song written by Buddy Holly and recorded by him on April 8, 1957. Though it was not a notable hit for Holly, both The Diamonds and The Beatles made considerable hits of it.

"Dizzy Miss Lizzie" is a song composed and sung by Larry Williams in 1958, sharing many similarities with the Little Richard song “Good Golly Miss Molly” (John Lennon was especially fond of this song and frequently performed it during his solo concerts).


Act Naturally" is a song written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, originally recorded by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, whose version reached number 1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1963.

*Yesterday and Today:


"Act Naturally" is a song written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison. (See Help!.)

*Let it Be:


"Save the Last Dance for Me" (“Rocker”) is the title of a popular song written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, first recorded in 1960 by Ben E. King with The Drifters.

Personal Beatles Album Collection (links)
Images via personal collection and

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

VIDEO: Gallery Talk - Duane Allman's 1959 Gibson Les Paul Guitars

Duane Allman's prized 1959 Gibson Les Paul
by Rock Hall, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Few guitarists made as lasting an impression in such short order as Duane Allman.

Beyond his work with the his namesake group and principal architects of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band, Duane was an in-demand session musician.

A fixture at Muscle Shoals, Duane's playing can be heard on records by Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, among others, and he famously traded licks with Eric Clapton on Derek and the Dominos' 1970 release Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

This 1959 cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul was acquired by Duane in the fall of 1970, after he fell in love with the instrument jamming with a band called the Stone Balloon in Daytona Beach, Florida.

The guitar can be heard on the seminal Allman Brothers Band live concert recording At Fillmore East.

Recorded at the famed NYC concert hall on March 12 and 13, 1971, sprawling jams such as "Whipping Post," inspired blues including a cover of "Statesboro Blues" and fiery, jazz-inspired epics like "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" showcased Allman's near-singular dexterity and versatility as a true guitar virtuoso.

Recently, the Gibson Custom Shop visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland with guitarist and Country Songwriter Hall of Fame inductee Lee Roy Parnell to research Duane Allman's '59 Gibson Les Paul.

After extensive interviews with historians, previous owners of the guitar and friends of Allman and his band, Parnell concluded that "this particular guitar was the one that Duane used most often to record and perform live."

In 2013, Gibson Custom released a limited edition, painstakingly recreated version of the Duane Allman cherry sunburst '59 Les Paul. That original '59 Les Paul as well as another '59 Les Paul delivered to Duane on June 25, 1971 have long been part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's collection.

Both 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitars were loaned to the Museum by Duane Allman's daughter Galadrielle. The Allman Brothers Band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

INTERVIEW: Flashback from 1975 - The Rebellious Neil Young

Nearing 30, Neil Young is the most enigmatic of all the superstars to emerge from Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
His often cryptic studies of lonely desperation and shaky-voiced antiheroics have led many to brand him a loner and a recluse.
Harvest was the last time that he struck the delicate balance between critical and commercial acceptance, and his subsequent albums have grown increasingly inaccessible to a mass audience.

Young's first comprehensive interview comes at a seeming turning point in his life and career.

After an amicable breakup with actress Carrie Snodgrass, he's moved from his Northern California ranch to the relative hustle and bustle of Malibu.

In the words of a close friend, he seems "frisky ... in an incredible mood." Young has unwound to the point where he can approach a story about his career as potentially "a lot of fun."

The interview was held while cruising down Sunset Boulevard in a rented red Mercedes and on the back porch of his Malibu beach house.

Cooperative throughout, Young only made a single request: "Just keep one thing in mind," he said as soon as the tape recorder had been turned off for the last time. "I may remember it all differently tomorrow."

Why is it that you've finally decided to talk now? For the past five years journalists requesting Neil Young interviews were told you had nothing to say.

There's a lot I have to say. I never did interviews because they always got me in trouble. Always. They never came out right. I just don't like them.

As a matter of fact, the more I didn't do them the more they wanted them; the more I said by not saying anything. But things change, you know. I feel very free now. I don't have an old lady anymore. I relate it a lot to that.

I'm back living in Southern California. I feel more open than I have in a long while. I'm coming out and speaking to a lot of people. I feel like something new is happening in my life.

I'm really turned on by the new music I'm making now, back with Crazy Horse. Today, even as I'm talking, the songs are running through my head. I'm excited.

I think everything I've done is valid or else I wouldn't have released it, but I do realize the last three albums have been a certain way. I know I've gotten a lot of bad publicity for them.

Somehow I feel like I've surfaced out of some kind of murk. And the proof will be in my next album. Tonight's the Night, I would say, is the final chapter of a period I went through.

Why the murky period?

Oh, I don't know. Danny's death probably tripped it off. Danny Whitten [leader of Crazy Horse and Young's rhythm guitarist/ second vocalist]. It happened right before the Time Fades Away tour. He was supposed to be in the group.

We [Ben Keith, steel guitar; Jack Nitzche, piano; Tim Drummond, bass; Kenny Buttrey, drums; and Young] were rehearsing with him and he just couldn't cut it. He couldn't remember anything. He was too out of it. Too far gone. I had to tell him to go back to L.A.

"It's not happening, man. You're not together enough." He just said, "I've got nowhere else to go, man. How am I gonna tell my friends?" And he split.

That night the coroner called me from L.A. and told me he'd O'Dd. That blew my mind. Fucking blew my mind. I loved Danny. I felt responsible. And from there, I had to go right out on this huge tour of huge arenas. I was very nervous and ... insecure.

Video: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Tom Waits and Neil Young, Darlene Love and Bruce Springsteen, All Star Jam

Why, then, did you release a live album?

I thought it was valid. Time Fades Away was a very nervous album. And that's exactly where I was at on the tour. If you ever sat down and listened to all my records, there'd be a place for it in there.

Not that you'd go there every time you wanted to enjoy some music, but if you're on the trip it's important.

Every one of my records, to me, is like an ongoing autobiography. I can't write the same book every time. There are artists that can. They put out three or four albums every year and everything fucking sounds the same. That's great.

Somebody's trying to communicate to a lot of people and give them the kind of music that they know they want to hear. That isn't my trip.

My trip is to express what's on my mind. I don't expect people to listen to my music all the time. Sometimes it's too intense. If you're gonna put a record on at 11:00 in the morning, don't put on Tonight's the Night. Put on the Doobie Brothers.

Time Fades Away, as the followup to Harvest, could have been a huge album ...

If it had been commercial.

As it is, it's one of your least selling solo albums. Did you realize what you were sacrificing at the time?

I probably did. I imagine I could have come up with the perfect followup album. A real winner. But it would have been something that everybody was expecting.

And when it got there they would have thought that they understood what I was all about and that would have been it for me. I would have painted myself in the corner.

The fact is I'm not that lone, laid-back figure with a guitar. I'm just not that way anymore. I don't want to feel like people expect me to be a certain way.

Nobody expected Time Fades Away and I'm not sorry I put it out. I didn't need the money, I didn't need the fame. You gotta keep changing. Shirts, old ladies, whatever. I'd rather keep changing and lose a lot of people along the way. If that's the price, I'll pay it.

I don't give a shit if my audience is a hundred or a hundred million. It doesn't make any difference to me. I'm convinced that what sells and what I do are two completely different things. If they meet, it's coincidence. I just appreciate the freedom to put out an album like Tonight's the Night if I want to.

You sound pretty drunk on that album.

I would have to say that's the most liquid album I've ever made. [Laughs] You almost need a life preserver to get through that one.

We were all leaning on the ol' cactus ... and, again, I think that it's something people should hear. They should hear what the artist sounds like under all circumstances if they want to get a complete portrait.

Everybody gets fucked up, man. Everybody gets fucked up sooner or later. You're just pretending if you don't let your music get just as liquid as you are when you're really high.

Is that the point of the album?

No. No. That's the means to an end. Tonight's the Night is like an OD letter. The whole thing is about life, dope and death.

When we [Nils Lofgren, guitars and piano, Talbot, Molina and Young] played that music we were all thinking of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, two close members of our unit lost to junk overdoses.

The Tonight's the Night sessions were the first time what was left of Crazy Horse had gotten together since Danny died. It was up to us to get the strength together among us to fill the hole he left.

The other OD, Bruce Berry, was CSNY's roadie for a long time. His brother Ken runs Studio Instrument Rentals, where we recorded the album. So we had a lot of vibes going for us. There was a lot of spirit in the music we made.

It's funny, I remember the whole experience in black and white. We'd go down to S.I.R. about 5:00 in the afternoon and start getting high, drinking tequila and playing pool.

About midnight, we'd start playing. And we played Bruce and Danny on their way all through the night. I'm not a junkie and I won't even try it out to check out what it's like ... but we all got high enough, right out there on the edge where we felt wide-open to the whole mood.

It was spooky. I probably feel this album more than anything else I've ever done.

Why did you wait until now to release 'Tonight's the Night'? Isn't it almost two years old?

I never finished it. I only had nine songs, so I set the whole thing aside and did On the Beach instead. It took Elliot [manager Elliot Roberts] to finish Tonight's the Night.

You see, awhile back there were some people who were gonna make a Broadway show out of the story of Bruce Berry and everything. They even had a script written.

We were putting together a tape for them and in the process of listening back on the old tracks, Elliot found three even older songs that related to the trip, "Lookout Joe," "Borrowed Tune" and "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown," a live track from when I played the Fillmore East with Crazy Horse. Danny even sings lead on that one.

Elliot added those songs to the original nine and sequenced them all into a cohesive story. But I still had no plans whatsoever to release it. I already had another new album called Homegrown in the can. The cover was finished and everything, [laughs] Ah, but they'll never hear that one.

Okay. Why not?

I'll tell you the whole story. I had a playback party for Homegrown for me and about ten friends. We were out of our minds. We all listened to the album and Tonight's the Night happened to be on the same reel. So we listened to that too, just for laughs. No comparison.

So you released 'Tonight's the Night.' Just like that?

Not because Homegrown wasn't as good. A lot of people would probably say that it's better.

I know the first time I listened back on Tonight's the Night it was the most out-of-tune thing I'd ever heard. Everyone's off-key. I couldn't hack it.

But by listening to those two albums back to back at the party, I started to see the weaknesses in Homegrown. I took Tonight's the Night because of its overall strength in performance and feeling.

The theme may be a little depressing, but the general feeling is much more elevating than Homegrown. Putting this album out is almost an experiment.

I fully expect some of the most determinedly worst reviews I've ever had. I mean if anybody really wanted to let go, they could do it on this one. And undoubtedly a few people will. That's good for them, though. I like to see people make giant breakthroughs for themselves. It's good for their psyche to get it all off their chests, [laughs].

I've seen Tonight's the Night draw a line everywhere it's been played. People who thought they would never dislike anything I did fall on the other side of the line. Others who thought "I can't listen to that cat. He's just too sad,"or whatever ... "His voice is funny." They listen another way now.

I'm sure parts of Homegrown will surface on other albums of mine. There's some beautiful stuff that Emmylou Harris sings harmony on. I don't know. That record might be more what people would rather hear from me now, but it was just a very down album. It was the darker side to Harvest.

A lot of the songs had to do with me breaking up with my old lady. It was a little too personal ... it scared me. Plus, I had just released On the Beach, probably one of the most depressing records I've ever made.

I don't want to get down to the point where I can't even get up. I mean there's something to going down there and looking around, but I don't know about sticking around.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

SPECIAL NOTICE: Experience Hendrix Tour Rides Again

Poster for 2014 Experience Hendrix Tourby , Psychedelic Sight:

Billy Cox once again leads the Experience Hendrix Tour on a nationwide swing beginning in March.

The lineup will be familiar, but vibrant nonetheless.

Notable Hendrix tour veterans include Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Dweezil Zappa, Jonny Lang, Eric Gales, Eric Johnson, and Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.

Cox, a longtime friend of Jimi Hendrix and a member of Band of Gypsys, provides authenticity on bass.

Performers do songs in the spirit of Hendrix, most of them written by the master. The artists get solo spots, sometimes with other billed performers supporting them.

The axemen won’t all be stars. Experience Hendrix LLC is running a talent contest with the top prize a slot on the tour, all expenses paid.

Key stops are Dallas (March 11), Chicago (March 14), Buffalo, N.Y. (April 1) and Detroit (April 3). No West Coast dates have been announced.

The Experience Hendrix Tour dates back to the summer of 1995, when the Hendrix family hosted a tribute performance at a Seattle music festival. Three years later the concept morphed into the Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Festival, also in Hendrix’s hometown of Seattle.

A three-date West Coast tour came in 2004, with Carlos Santana and Paul Rogers among the top-billed performers, and appearances by Hendrix band veterans Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell.

2007 saw a six-city Experience Hendrix Tour, with Buddy Guy, Robby Krieger, Hubert Sumlin, Robert Randolph and the rhythm section of Cox and Mitchell. Nationwide tours began in 2008.

Other players booked for the 2014 tour so far include Doyle Bramhall II, Chris Layton and Zakk Wylde.

The 2013 guitar competition’s jury will be headed by Janie Hendrix (the sister of Jimi) and engineer/ producer Eddie Kramer. Also aboard is Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics fame. The wannabe site Talenthouse is handling details.

Would-be stars must submit a video of themselves performing a Hendrix track. The deadline is Jan. 15.

The winner gets to perform a song on the tour. Five runners-up receive some modest swag, including a cheap Strat.

Here’s where you can enter the Hendrix tour competition.

The Experience Hendrix Tour dates:

Dallas: Verizon Theater on March 11
St. Louis: Fox Theater on March 13
Chicago: Chicago Theater on March 14
Ames, Iowa: Stephens Auditorium on March 15
Milwaukee: Riverside Theater on March 16
Louisville, Ky.: Whitney Performing Arts Center on March 18
Charleston, W. Va.: Clay Center on March 19
Pittsburgh: Benedum Theater on March 20
Glenside, Penn.: Keswick Theater on March 21
Atlantic City, N.J.: Harrah’s Resort on March 22
Wilkes Barre, Pa.: Kirby Performing Arts Center on March 23
Red Bank, N.J.: Count Basie Theater on March 25
Hampton, N.H.: Hampton Beach Casino on March 27
Albany, N.Y.: Palace Theater on March 28
Waterbury, Ct.: Palace Theater on March 29
Washington, D.C.: Lincoln Theater on March 30
Buffalo, N.Y.: Center For Arts on April 1
Northfield, Ohio: Hard Rock Theater on April 2
Detroit: Fox Theater on April 3

Saturday, November 9, 2013

VIDEOS: The Music, Art, and Life of Joni Mitchell Presented in a Superb 2003 Documentary

by , Open Culture:

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him at @jdmagness

I grew up with the music of Joni Mitchell often playing in the background of my home life.

For me she blended with the voices of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Carole King, and other sixties folkies; my mother - who played instruments like dulcimers and autoharps and could not sing or keep time - loved these women. I will confess, I did not.

Familiarity did not breed contempt so much as indifference, and I mistook the softness of the music for cheap sentimentality. This careless listening lead me wrong, especially in the case of Mitchell, whose songwriting is perhaps as poetic, complex, and yet as honest as it gets.

In songs like the absolutely wrenching “Little Green” and the stunning, imagistic “The Hissing of Summer Lawns,” Mitchell’s jazz-inflected compositions demonstrate these qualities in such abundance that they make me shudder.

Her visual imagination is particularly on display in the latter, and that enduring quality comes from a lifelong engagement with art, her own and others.

Mitchell, we learn in the 2003 CBC documentary above, had a childhood ambition to become a painter. She tells us in voice-over “I always had star eyes; I was always interested in glamour.” Music, for her, was a hobby.

Nonetheless, she made a name for herself locally in Calgary as a folk-singing art student in the sixties, “mimicking” Joan Baez and Judy Collins songs at a coffeehouse called The Depression.

A pregnancy - ruinous at the time - thwarted Mitchell’s desire for an art career and, as she puts it, forced her “on the bad girl’s trail, a trail of shame and scandal.”

She gave birth to a daughter (the subject of “Little Green”) and, out of desperation, began to birth her music - through an ill-considered misalliance with first husband and musical partner Chuck Mitchell.

These painful early experiences pushed Mitchell to write, to “develop her own private world,” she says above. A line from “Little Green” captures the emotional nuances of that world: “You’re sad and you’re sorry but you’re not ashamed.”

Watch the full documentary (with Spanish subtitles) to get more insights into Mitchell’s development as an artist and a person. Mitchell is open, lively, and reflective, as you might expect.

She’s as lively as ever as a 69-year-old grande dame of folk music, as you can see in the CBC interview above, taped at her home, where she talks at length about the paintings that line her walls and her songwriting process, while unrepentantly smoking like a chimney.

Friday, November 8, 2013

VIDEO: Joni Mitchell: "Woodstock"

by BenevolentVideos

I came upon a child of god
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
Im going on down to yasgurs farm
Im going to join in a rock n roll band
Im going to camp out on the land
Im going to try an get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

VIDEOS: In One of his Final Interviews, Frank Zappa Pronounces Himself “Totally Unrepentant”

by , Open Culture:

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

In a year that marks some significant pop culture 20th anniversaries - Wired magazine, Nirvana’s In Utero, The X-Files - one in particular may get somewhat less press.

This coming December will be twenty years since Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer at age 52, after achieving infamy, notoriety, and finally, actual, run-of-the-mill fame. The latter he didn’t seem to cherish as much, and certainly not during his sickness.

Nevertheless, Zappa sat for a Today Show interview, one of his last, and discussed his current work and failing health.

A young chipper Katie Couric gives Zappa an ambivalent intro as the “bizarre performer with a penchant for lascivious lyrics.” “What few know,” she goes on to say, “is that he’s also a serious and respected classical composer.”

Zappa’s bona fides as a “serious” artist seem to grant him a pass, at least for a bit, from interviewer Jamie Gangel, who begins asking about the successful performances of his work in Europe, where he “sells out concert halls.”

Zappa responds respectfully, but is obviously quite bored and in pain. He’s subdued, downbeat, guarded. Then the inevitable grilling begins.

“How much do you think you did for the sound and how much for the humor?” asks Gangel. “Both,” answers Zappa, “The goal here is entertainment.”

Zappa pronounces himself “totally unrepentant” for his life. In answer to the question “is there anything you’ve done that you felt sorry for?” he simply says, “No.”

And why should he confess on national television? There are many more interesting things to discuss, such as Zappa’s stand against Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) during the legendary 1985 Senate Hearings (along with Dee Snider and, of all people, John Denver).

When the conversation turns to that history, Zappa learns a fun fact about Gore that genuinely catches him off-guard.

The interview goes to some very sad places, and while Zappa hangs in there, it’s not particularly entertaining to see him staunchly refuse to view his condition through Gangel’s lenses. He clearly doesn’t see his illness as theater and won’t play penitent or victim.

A much more lively interview, by a much better informed interviewer, six months before Zappa’s death, is with Ben Watson for Mojo. In both of these moments, however, Zappa insists on the only label he ever applied to himself: he’s an entertainer, nothing more.

Whether touted as a “classical composer” (a phrase he doesn’t use) or thought of as an artist, Zappa to the very end dodged any hint of serious moral intentions in his music, which perhaps makes him one of the most honest musicians in all of pop culture history.

He saved the serious intentions for an arena much more in need of them. His PMRC hearing testimony contains an eloquent statement of his ethos: “Bad facts make bad laws. And people who write bad laws are, in my opinion, more dangerous that songwriters who celebrate sexuality.”

Monday, November 4, 2013

VIDEO: Classic Monty Python: Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw Engage in a Hilarious Battle of Wits

by , Open Culture:

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be present when Oscar Wilde was delivering those dazzling epigrams of his? In this classic sketch from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, we’re presented with one hilarious possibility.

The sketch is from Episode 39 of the Flying Circus, the last episode of season three, which was recorded on May 18, 1972 but not aired until January 18, 1973.

The scene takes place in 1895, in the drawing room of Wilde’s London home.

Holding court amid a roomful of sycophants, Wilde (played by Graham Chapman) competes with the Irish writer George Bernard Shaw (Michael Palin) and the American-born painter James McNeill Whistler (John Cleese) to impress Queen Victoria’s son Albert Edward (Terry Jones), the Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII.

As for the historical basis of the sketch, “There seems to be no evidence for the convivial triumvirate of Whistler, Wilde, and Shaw,” writes Darl Larsen in Monty Python’s Flying Circus: An Utterly Complete, Thoroughly Unillustrated, Absolutely Unauthorized Guide, “especially as late as 1895, when Whistler was caring for his terminally ill wife and Wilde was in the early stages of his fall from grace.”

Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest opened in February of that year, and shortly afterward he became embroiled in a legal battle with the Marquess of Queensberry that led eventually to his imprisonment for homosexuality.

Wilde was once a protégé of Whistler, but their friendship had deteriorated by 1895. Whistler was apparently jealous of Wilde’s success, and believed he had stolen many of his famous lines.

When Wilde reportedly said “I wish I had said that” in response to a witty remark by Whistler in about 1888, the painter famously retorted, “You will, Oscar, you will.” Shaw worked as a London theatre critic in the 1890s, and the Prince of Wales was a patron of the arts.

In the Python sketch, Wilde kicks off a round of witticisms with his famous line, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

But things go rapidly downhill as the conversation turns into an exercise in heaping abuse on the Prince of Wales and pinning the blame on a rival:

WILDE: Your Majesty is like a big jam doughnut with cream on the top.
PRINCE: I beg your pardon?
WILDE: Um … It was one of Whistler’s.
WHISTLER: I never said that.
WILDE: You did, James, you did.
WHISTLER: Well, Your Highness, what I meant was that, like a doughnut, um, your arrival gives us pleasure … and your departure only makes us hungry for more [the prince laughs and nods his head]. Your Highness, you are also like a stream of bat’s piss.
WHISTLER: It was one of Wilde’s. One of Wilde’s.
WILDE: It sodding was not! It was Shaw!
SHAW: I … I merely meant, Your Majesty, that you shine out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.
WILDE: Right. Your Majesty is like a dose of clap -
WHISTLER: - Before you arrive is pleasure, and after is a pain in the dong.
PRINCE: What??
WHISTLER AND WILDE: One of Shaw’s, one of Shaw’s.
SHAW: You bastards.